tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 16, 2015 12:00am-2:01am EDT
impact of u.s.-taiwan relations on the country's relationship with china. john mchugh spoke tuesday about the future of the u.s. army. his remarks focused on military readiness, budget cuts, veteran's mental health, and the accidental shipment of live anthrax to labs around the country. from the american enterprise institute, this is an hour. >> good morning. welcome to the american enterprise institute.
good afternoon now. it is a pleasure to have all of you and our guest of honor. we're rounding our series with the service secretaries after coming off our series with the joint chiefs last year. i can't think of a better way to end it. it is like a cherry on the sundae with john mchugh. on the eve of his retirement from not just the defense department, but government service he's a true civil servant in every respect. he's been an unsung hero for the army and the soldiers that are in it for forever. not just in his capacity in the executive branch, but during his long tenure in the house of representativ representatives. many other roles and commissions and responsibilities he's hoeld in the last 40 years.
i'm pleased to have him here and to welcome all of you. we'll be live tweeting parts of this with hash tag mchugh at aei. i know you know him well enough to have shown up to be here today, so mr. secretary, thank you. thank you for coming. >> thank you. good to be here. >> it's a pleasure to sit and talk and learn about not just what's next for you, which i hope we'll get to eventually, but talk a little more about looking back a little bit for a moment and then we will open it up for questions and answers and get you all out of here on time. there's been a lot of things -- when we think back what the army was dealing with six years ago, what you're talking and thinking about today it's been a wild ride. you've dealt with some significant challenges. >> i arrived when things were very, very painful. two theaters of war. but they were more settled in that we knew pretty much where
the challenges lied, we knew pretty much what our missions were going to be, we thought we knew who our friends and our less friendly opponents were, but as you noted, things have a habit of turning around on you. i think if you look at the last 20 months particularly, certainly from the army perspective, we're dealing with a menu of missions and challenges that were largely unforeseen, even ebola in west africa. we hadn't really thought about the united states army going and being the foundational force there to deal with that challenge and to contain it, but we were called upon. we did it. isil, obviously, was not the kind of force and challenge that it is today. the activities in eastern eur e europe. it was not on our plate directly, et cetera, et cetera. the good news is the men and women wear that uniform and
virtually all ranks have been able to adopt and have responded. it's been pretty breathtaking to watch from the perspective of the secretary. >> exactly. in some ways, it's a very high-profile and public job. and in other ways, there's a lot of work that you do behind the scenes and the chief will take the lead and you have a good relationship, the two of you in who does what. >> usually. >> right. usually. nine years ago, you still had over 100,000 soldiers deployed active duty roughly. while they are in different places now, the tempo is different. you remember the difficulties with long deployments. deploy ratio time and how challenging that was on people and their families.
and now we have a force more rotational based instead of permanently based forward. it is stabilized, take care of your people. then we switch to this current sort of model. nobody wants to be in a garrison force anymore. how do you manage the expectations of a changing world and what the army is going to do? >> that's a critical question. i've been asked repeatedly what keeps you up at night. there's any number of things, but one of the things i really worry most about as we transitioned out of the conditions that you described were virtually every soldier knew the likelihood was they were going into a combat theater. some went into iraq and afghanistan repeatedly. they met incredible challenges, and as i went forward, there are
26 trips to iraq and afghanistan, including my time in congress. i was always amazed to see these young lieutenants, captains, out doing things and having the authorities they probably had to be two or three grades higher, if not more, in conflict's past. they performed magnificently,and they enjoyed that kind of authority and learned from it. one of the worst things we can do is bring leaders like that, soldiers like that, who enjoy being a soldier, all kinds of opportunities going forward provides and boring them to death in garrison as you noted. on the one hand, the realities of the world are taking care of that for us, whether we like it or not. you mentioned a rotational approach to much of it. we have 136,000 soldiers right
now who are deployed or are preparing to deploy to some 140 locations. while the world is unsettling to people like me, to our soldiers it still provides that opportunity to go out and engage and train with other nations, et cetera, et cetera, but we have to begin to do better at home station training. we have to be sure as challenging as our funding may be we're maintaining our combat center rotations. soldiers love to get out into the field and train, and we need to, as well, focus on other things, broadening opportunities like education, partnership to partnership opportunities, just trying to do everything we can to make life in uniform of interest and challenge to our soldiers. nobody likes a war. nobody more so than a soldier, but we do have to be creative in how we keep them excited about being a member of the army team.
>> it's completely challenging. they're going to complain if you're sending them out. they're going to complain if they're not, but not in a bad way. in a good way they want a fulfilling career in the service to their country, which i respect deeply. that segues perfectly into another shift in priorities. throughout the obama administration and the team that's been -- the civilian and uniform teams at dod, there's been a focus on people. civilian dod and uniformed. more of a longer conversation about diversity. not just diversity in terms of gender or race or race or religion, but in terms of life experience. i think that's linked partly to secretary of defense ash carter and deputy secretary's work outreach to silicon valley in particular and the need to be able to bring people in briefly
and kick them out into the real world. changes to the upper out promotion, longer time in station, fewer pcss throughout one's career, preferential treatments for duty stations. it's a conversation that's been underway since the last administration since we had the national guard and reserve commission. there was a discussion of continuum of service. while the conversations have been underway for arguably a decade and there have been some changes like a member of the guard on the joint chiefs and compensation changes, this force of the future stuff is hard, this continuum of service model. it's difficult to do. do you see progress being made in the last 18 months of this
administration, or some of it is internal to dod, but a lot of it is going to be congressionally approved? can we make progress? can there be a big bang approach, or is this something that is going to take years and it should? >> well, i think there's an opportunity here, as you know. mackenzie, the first thing you have to have is an agreement at the pentagon that something has to be done. there's nuanced differences as to both what and how to do those things on one side of the potompo potomac and the pentagon and capitol hill, there broader issues that i can provide the foundation to do some very positive things from now until the close out of this administration. if nothing more, build a solid foundation by which the next administration can continue to
work with the next batch of leaders in the pentagon. the other thing that i think is encouraging and you mentioned it, secretary carter and secretary work, take this very, very seriously. i think there's a fairly described pretty aggressive outreach to silicon valley, but the challenges, i think, are more broadly based than what silicon valley is likely to provide whether it's cyber or the emerging technologies that the military knows we're going to have requirements for personnel. we just have to be more creative. it's generally couched as us competing against the private sector. as you look at the military of the past, you can understand that, so the approach all of us are trying to take is, okay, how can we break that paradigm. can we preserve that core force?
for all of the military, the primary responsibility is to be able to go out and defend this nation. but on the margins in terms of these highly technological skill sets, we've got to work more cooperatively with the private sector. and i think we're making good progress there. it's hard to point out an example. i'll use cyber as an example. we're faced with very highly publicized challenges. private sector is as well, but we conduct operations the private sector does not. those provide the opportunity for skill set development that i think in important ways can be of considerable value to the private sector, and we can work better together to make sure that both our interests are better served. so i think there's some real
chances there for doing a lot better. >> i'm encouraged. your colleague secretary of the navy was here and made some headlines. >> ray can do that. >> yes, he can. he talked at length about the3 budget challenges that you and the chief face, the growing money that is spent on core business functions and processes of the department like logistics, like health care management, contracting, et cetera in many cases for good reason. when you grow the army after 9/11 like you did, it is understandable that civilian forces and dod forces would go considerable. the active duty force has droppdrop dropped off pretty quickly.
there are no commiserate reductions in the workload. but in the 90s when you were on the hill, that is the normal flow of things. we would probably agree it's best not to take peace dividends. it is often elusive, but in the 90s when we thought there would be one, the active duty force came down 20%. this time around it's actually inverted. the army is dropping like a rock and in strength and active duty terms. in some years they've gone up. that's a tough challenge. it doesn't mean they're not doing valuable work. it doesn't mean they're not amazing civil servants. it doesn't mean they're not necessary. let's put all the caveats aside. but the army institutionally is looking at challenges between readiness, of course, the three-legged stool, and strength
and modernization, and all three are effected by what's happening in the civilian work force, so what advice would you give your successor how to think about those priorities? if there's only enough dollars to fund one or two of them, how do you assess risk management? >> i didn't take notes on my friend ray's comments, but i think they're finally recognizing the challenge to reduce their faces as we say. because, as you noted, without that reduction, workloads don't reduce. the army -- and i'll speak for the army -- has taken on the civilian work force reduction very aggressively. the secretary of defense ordered us to reduce headquarters by 20%. i upped that to 25. that was not without some
concern, as you might understand in the army halls, but we're overachieving there. we took that definition of headquarters down to two star commands and above, which was more broadly based than dod or the congress. at the height of the civilian work force in this era of two conflicts of war was about 285,000. and that growth occurred not because civilians were standing around saying we want more. it was done so that we could take operational -- or generating force soldiers, those who were training, those who were in our schoolhouses, et cetera, and put them into operational positions, and we substituted civilians as they went forward. congress and senator mccain particularly have been very clear about